Journey to Black Belt and the Fear of Failure

black belt

Sitting in a parking lot, staring at a building for twenty minutes, debating whether or not to go in, messes with you, especially when you’ve been through tougher times. Usually though, during those tougher times people will tell you that you had no choice, that you did what you had to do. But really, we always have a choice and with every action we do, we are the ones who choose to do it.

I’m not sure why I was so resistant to start a self defense class. Albeit, I wasn’t the most physically active, it was for six weeks, dubbed the “Ultimate Self Defense” class and included learning to strike people who were trying to strike me, which ultimately, besides smacking my brothers occasionally,  was a foreign concept.  But after leaving the parking lot and circling the building (a couple of times), a friend of mine finally showed up. Intimidated as I was, I still got out of the car when she did.

Flash forward,  three years later. She and I are still parking in the same lot, walking into the same building together and are still learning more martial arts skills and more about ourselves each day.

It took me a while but I eventually realized what the key word was to all of this and that key word was “self”.

The day that I stepped out of the car with my friend was the first time in over a decade,  I was doing something for no one else but me. I’m not sure what compelled me to but it was the smartest move I ever made for myself.

How I went from an “embarrassed-to-be-wearing-a-white-uniform” introverted woman in a room full of skilled black belts to actually getting ready to “test” for my own black belt, in less than 48 hours might I add, is a bit of a shocker. But in life I’ve come to “expect the unexpected”.

So here I sit, along with ten or so other women who are right there with me, each of us having our own story and reasons for walking in the front door of Olson’s Martial Arts and tying that stiff belt around our waists.

I may not know why everyone decided to take the “journey to black belt” but I do know that along the way each of us either had something to conquer or figured out something we needed to.  I also know that when each of us felt challenged that each of us worked harder to figure out a way to deal with it.  I know we all had moments of success. We all had moments of failure.  There were times we would laugh. Times we would cry. There were times we were pushed just like times we’d push others. And I know more than anything else, that all of us were always right there for each other, making each moment in our black belt journey one that ended positively. And finding a large group of people like that, as you all know, is never an easy task.

But at Olson’s Martial Arts it’s a reality:

A reality created by Nanci and Katie who are always with a warm greeting when you walk in the front door.

By Walker whose gentle nature always brings comfort.

By Kristina who always brings us composure.

By Kellie with her constant passion.

By Ashlyn with her ability to conform her teaching style in a way that translates beautifully to others.

By every assistant instructor and student who walks through those doors with their positive energy.

But most of all,  for me it is a reality created by Amanda Olson who set the bar just high enough to make me work for it but just close enough for me to always taste it.  It’s a reality created by Glenn Olson who oozes a genuine comforting spirit like no other mentor I’ve ever experienced. And it’s a reality created by Keith Olson who understands the deeper meaning of what makes me tick and understood immediately that I have switch and taught me how to tame it.

I may have broken a toe along the way but I’ve also managed to break four concrete bricks.

What’s coming up for me is not a “test”, it’s an accomplishment. It’s not a trial but an honor. It’s not something to fear but rather it’s something to celebrate.

Pass or fail? We “passed” the first day we put on our white gis and decided to keep walking in the front door.

And if for some reason, as fate would have it and things don’t go my way, I know for certain that everyone mentioned above will be right there with me to make sure it eventually does.

As Mika from Blades of Hope might say, “As long as I look good doing it!”

I may not share the hugs but I definitely share the love…